As human beings we use music in myriad cultural contexts–to celebrate, to encourage, to separate, to uplift. But never more than in the past thirty years have these functions evolved so drastically. The way that the craft is processed by culture has undergone a huge change from the days of the album as the epitome of the art form, through the days of the 45, and on to today, where a single mp3 distributed through a social networking venue such as Myspace can cause intense international interest in an act seemingly overnight.
Music aficionados Pitchfork have attempted to capture the essence of these changes with the publication of the upcoming book The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide to the Greatest Songs from Punk to the Present, which traces what they deem the most important songs since the days when the pizzazz of David Bowie, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop gave kids an alternative to the sweetened pop that the Beatles popularized the previous decade. Employing the cunning writing style that the web site is known for, Pitchfork provides an enlightening view to modern music and its impact on society as a whole. While most readers are sure to immediately recognize many of the hits (Madonna’s “Holiday,” Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So,” Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”), the guide leaves room for some of the more undercurrent sensations that had more of an effect on future influential performers than they did during their own era.
What is surely one of the first guides to approach music in this way, Pitchfork seeks to enlighten us as it escorts us down memory lane. Set to hit bookstores on 11/11/08, The Pitchfork 500 may just be the template that future music historians refer to when assessing the value that the power of the singular song has played in the collective conscious of the 21st century and beyond. Pre-order here. Selected highlights after the jump:
mp3: “Bros” by Panda Bear